Since Babaganouj’s single ‘Can’t Stop’, the Brisbane outfit has shown little signs of stopping at all. Their sound has evolved a lot since their inception in 2011, with Hard To Be holding a real sweet-pop ballad sound throughout. ‘Everything You Touch You Break’ is the introductory track to the EP, with deliberately rough guitar strums and Charles’ vocals reminiscent of old Smashing Pumpkins.
‘Cemetery’ is also sung by Charles, and holds the same sort of disdain, with emotional cussing thrown in for good measure. It does, however, stem from the first track. It’s a ballad that lyrically reflects on an old memory with a girl in the first verse, the backing vocals adding to its sad theme. The second verse, in contrast, sounds bitter and angry (“fucking hipsters”), but picks up towards the end with the far more hopeful lyrics “falling in love for the first time”.
‘Sorry’ is reminiscent of a 90’s pop song, something that could have easily been a part of soundtracks like that of 10 Things I Hate About You or other such teen films. Ruby’s vocals give a confident, don’t-care attitude, pushing the song into #sorrynotsorry territory. It’s a nice turn in the middle of the EP, with its eclectic hand-claps and guitar distortion in the bridge giving the song a punk twist.
The same feel continues through to ‘Interpol’, with the vocals led by Charles. It’s a significant growth from his entrance in ‘Everything You Touch You Break’, tying more with the sound of ‘Sorry’. This is definitely a song to get excited about hearing live. The repetition of “hey girl” and “I still want you” cover emotional ground, and the synth outro warps the song into the last track, ‘Going To Melbourne’, which returns the EP to its deeper, softer sounds of the opening songs.
‘Going To Melbourne’ conveys feelings of loneliness, in a country-style ballad highlighted by the synth and guitar working in unison in a brief instrumental following the first run of the chorus. Whether the song is simply a comparison of the heat in Brisbane compared to the weather in Melbourne, or simply a satirical musical essay on the hipster-like feel of Melbourne, it’s probably for us to decide, really. The sweet vocal harmonies in the second verse are much warmer, muting the feeling of loneliness and ending with the same warmth.
Babaganouj, keep on doing what you’re doing. Hard To Be is an EP with both grit and grace, sweetness and sass: it’s not only an enjoyable ride, lyrically and musically, but another snapshot of the band’s increasingly infectious work.